A Pulitzer prize writer buys a cabin. The neighbors get suspicious when a stranger "breaks in". They see a black man and call the police, who start shooting at him. The sheriff tries a cover-up involving a white petty crook. Bad idea.
E. Max Frye
Samuel L. Jackson,
A medical examiner, who was suspected of murdering his wife, is trying an experimental drug to retrieve his wife's and others' memory and maybe find the killer and the mass murderer in a related present case.
1936, Italian army is invading Ethiopia. Lieutenant Silvestri suffering toothache decides to reach the nearest camp hospital. But the lorry has an accident and stop near a rock, so ... See full summary »
When a promised job for Texan Michael fails to materialise in Wyoming, Mike is mistaken by Wayne to be the hitman he hired to kill his unfaithful wife, Suzanne. Mike takes full advantage of the situation, collects the money and runs. During his getaway, things go wrong, and soon get worse when he runs into the real hitman, Lyle.Written by
Enthralling criminal goings-on in a small Western town, as the lead is caught between a Red Rock and a hard place.
John Dahl's Red Rock West is a neat, taut, stripped down piece of cut-and-thrust film-making without gimmickry nor a single false string attached. In a current contemporary world of American film-making, and one that was almost certainly predominant at the time of Red Rock West's inception, how wonderful it is to uncover a film that refrains from the over indulgence of extravagance and the ideology that awe is built on a foundation of overkill and visuals. That's not to say Red Rock West is without extravagance nor awe, such is Dahl's ability, that the film is full of a number of various incidences and twists that are exactly these things and gotten across by way of little more than a glance from one of the character's or an individual cut of the camera. When we hark back to America's independent cinematic boom of the late 1980s and going on into the early 1990s, certainly a boom that saw a number of films and individual directors both honoured and recognised on the European film circuit at the top level in a series of Golden Palm nominations, the displaying of Red Rock West shows we must not glance over the name of Dahl when speaking of both the films and directors of that era, namely: the Coen Brothers; Steven Soderburgh; Spike Lee and Tarantino, et al.
The film revolves around Nicolas Cage's character named Michael Williams, an ex-Marine of American nationality down on his luck and strapped for money in the dusty outback of Wyoming. He lives out of his car; uses random road side troughs full of water as makeshift sinks and struggles to find work, the latest failing being a construction site job that doesn't come through, although later on, he'll find ample opportunity at constructing something: a monstrosity of a scenario for himself. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he's going into the misadventure he'll come to have with a prior tragedy of having served time in the Vietnam War, but suffering during this stretch at the hands of a missile attack on a base in Lebanon he was positioned at which forced him into enduring a glut of both chaos and death. The event that may very well lend itself to Williams' dishevelled and down-beat tone and attitude, something Cage pulls off in that naturalistic manner he's done so on occasion since, shares eerie parallels with what will come to unfold around him as another glut of death and chaos unfolds around a man who has signed up for something you only realise you don't want to be anywhere near when it gets ugly as 'wrong place – wrong time' scenario once again kicks in.
The devilish premise sees Williams pretend to be the Texan hit-man an apparent bar owner named Wayne (Walsh) called for some days ago so as to do some local dirty-work he wants taken care of. His looming over a seated Cage whilst in the office an early establishing of power, the sort of power that he'll come to have over him as Williams is forced throughout into proverbially dancing to the tune of others. But rather than eliminate the target, Wayne's wife played by Lara Flynn Boyle, Williams warns her of the predicament and that her marriage ought quite clearly be an item of concern form here on in. Once all is said and done, the real hit-man in Dennis Hopper's Lyle shows up in jet black Texan attire and similarly coloured car more resembling a hearse than anything else, whilst developments and complications in exactly who it is the chief of police is in the whole area open up.
For Cage's character, and like in most good film noir when dealing with the down-trodden lead whom treads a fine line between right and wrong, the persistent idea of torn morals floats to the surface relatively quickly and consistently in Red Rock West. In just observing the premise, the notion of Williams illegally accepting the offer of being paid to kill someone before refraining from doing it when confronted with the innocent figure of Wayne's wife, Dahl highlights his character's soon-to-be prominent ever shifting; ever changing attitudes to what crime infused activity is playing out around him. Throughout, Williams lies; shoots; kills and steals but additionally saves; offers salvation and actually avoids violence on several occasions when straight forward murder would have offered a simple way out of a predicament. Given this, Dahl expertly manoeuvres Williams from one town in the form of Red Rock to another and then back over the border again, a sort of physical flitting from one place to another in what is a physical manifestation of both the above theories of a film noir's male lead as well as Cage's character's constantly ambiguous hopping from justified in his actions to not as so.
Red Rock West moulds a fascinating, and quite terrifying at times, tale out of all these elements; combining a number of items such as double-crosses; multiple identities and intense connections characters have with one another, the sorts that they're forced into forging before later being asked what they truly mean to them. Dahl additionally, and in a very basic sense, taps into a certain idea of post-war disillusionment through his lead in Williams' disconnection from the rest of society seeing him inhabit a desolate and often incomprehensible rural locale in which he just about scrapes by. This, as an old war injury refrains him from making any true advancement in a chosen field of work. Red Rock West is a tight, gripping piece; the sort that arrives with a steady and effective eye on a variety of items all the while under the control of a steady, focused hand.
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